8 Common Problems with Gutters

new wooden warm ecological house roof with steel - gutter seattle
new wooden warm ecological house roof with steel - gutter seattle

Gutters are essential to a home’s drainage system, keeping rainwater from damaging the roof, walls, and foundation. However, if not addressed promptly, gutters can develop problems that lead to severe damage. Here are eight common problems with gutters and how to fix them.

1. Clogged gutters

A clogged gutter prevents water from flowing properly, leading to overflowing water that seeps into the building’s walls, foundation, and roof, causing significant water damage. This damage can be costly to repair and pose a serious risk to the structural integrity of the building.

It is vital to clean gutters regularly, especially during the fall when leaves and other debris are most likely to accumulate. Cleaning gutters can be tedious and dangerous, requiring climbing a ladder and working at a significant height. Professional gutter cleaning services are available for those unable to clean their gutters.

Another option to prevent clogged gutters is to install gutter guards. Gutter guards prevent debris from entering the gutter while allowing water to flow freely. Several gutter guards are available, including mesh screens, foam inserts, and solid covers. Gutter guards can save money in the long run by preventing costly water damage repairs.

2. Sagging Gutters

When gutters start to sag, they become ineffective at directing water away from the building. Loose or damaged hangers commonly cause sagging gutters, and if left unfixed, they can lead to water pooling and overflowing, causing costly damage to the property.

Sagging gutters are a common problem that can damage a home’s foundation and landscaping significantly. Tightening the hangers, replacing damaged hangers, or adding additional hangers are practical solutions to fix sagging gutters. It’s crucial to identify and fix the problem promptly to avoid costly repairs in the future.

3. Leaking Gutters

rain overflowing gutters and downspout

Over time, gutters can become damaged or develop loose joints, leading to leaks. It can cause water damage to the home’s exterior and mould and mildew growth inside the house.

There are two leading causes of leaking gutters: damage to the gutter itself or loose or damaged joints.

Damage to the gutter can occur for various reasons, such as severe weather conditions, falling debris, or rust and corrosion. If the gutter is damaged, it should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to prevent water from seeping into the home’s foundation. Repairing the damage may involve patching holes or cracks with a sealant or replacing broken or dented gutter sections.

Loose or damaged joints are another common cause of leaking gutters. Over time, the joints may become loose due to wear and tear or exposure to the elements. When this happens, they can no longer seal the gutter properly, allowing water to leak. The joints should be tightened or replaced. Tightening the joints involves using a screwdriver or drill to secure them in place, while replacing the joints may require purchasing new ones and installing them with appropriate fasteners.

In addition to these two leading causes, other factors can contribute to leaking gutters. For example, clogged gutters can cause water to back up and overflow, leading to leaks. Gutters should be cleaned regularly, especially when leaves and debris accumulate quickly during the fall.

4. Improper Pitch

If your gutters are not sloping correctly, water may not flow towards the downspouts as it should. It can cause water to pool in the gutters, potentially damaging the gutter system, roof, fascia, and even your home’s foundation.

Adjusting the hangers may be necessary if your gutters need to be sloping correctly. Hangers are required to beckets that hold the gutter system in place, and if they need to be adequately secured or spaced, the gutters may need to have the proper slope. Adjusting the hangers can be tedious, as it requires loosening and repositioning each one to ensure the appropriate pitch.

In some cases, installing new hangers may be necessary. It is particularly true if the existing hangers are damaged or corroded or need to be more vital to support the weight of the gutters. New hangers can be made from various materials, including aluminium, copper, and steel.

5. Rust and Corrosion

Gutters can develop rust and corrosion over time, especially if made of metal. This can be caused by exposure to moisture, humidity, and other environmental factors that cause the metal to break down and deteriorate. Rust and corrosion can weaken the integrity of the gutters, making them more prone to damage and leaks.

It is recommended to install vinyl or aluminium gutters instead of metal gutters. Vinyl and aluminium gutters are highly resistant to rust and corrosion, making them an excellent long-term solution for your roofing system. These materials are also lightweight and easy to install, making them popular for homeowners and contractors.

If you already have metal gutters, you can prevent rust and corrosion by painting them with rust-resistant paint. This type of paint creates a protective layer that helps to prevent moisture from reaching the metal and causing rust and corrosion. It also helps to improve the appearance of your gutters, making them look newer and more attractive.

6. Pest Infestations

bird flying near the building

Gutters can attract unwanted pests such as birds, squirrels, and insects, which can build nests and cause damage.

Birds are attracted to gutters because they provide a perfect nesting spot. If they build their nests in your gutter, they can cause water to overflow and damage your siding, roof, and foundation. Birds can leave behind droppings.

Squirrels are another pest that can cause damage to your gutters. They may chew through the gutters to create an entry point to your attic or crawl space, allowing them to make a home inside your home. This can cause significant damage, as squirrels can chew through insulation, wiring, and support beams.

Insects are also attracted to gutters because they provide water and shelter. Mosquitoes and other insects can breed in standing water in clogged gutters, and this can become a significant health hazard, as they can spread diseases.

It’s essential to take preventative measures. Installing gutter covers or screens is an effective way to keep unwanted visitors. These covers and screens allow water to flow through while keeping out of your gutters. By installing these covers or screens, you can reduce the likelihood of clogs and prevent damage to your gutters.

In addition to installing gutter covers or screens, keeping your gutters clean is essential. Regularly cleaning your gutters can prevent clogs and reduce the likelihood of pest infestations.

7. Ice Dams

In cold weather, ice dams can form in gutters, preventing water from flowing correctly and causing damage. To prevent ice dams, ensure proper insulation in your attic and roof, and install ice and water barriers under your roofing materials. Ice dams can become a significant issue for homeowners in cold weather conditions. 

Ice dams are caused by a combination of factors, including heat loss from the attic, snow on the roof, and freezing temperatures. When warm air from the attic melts the snow on the top, the water runs down the roof and into the gutters. However, when the water reaches the colder parts of the top, such as the eaves, it refreezes, forming a dam. As more water flows down the roof, it becomes trapped behind the ice dam, causing it to back onto the roof and potentially seep into the home.

The consequences of ice dams can be significant. Not only can they cause damage to the roof and gutters, but the trapped water can also leak into the home, causing water damage and promoting the growth of mould and mildew. Therefore, it is essential to prevent ice dams from forming.

One way to prevent ice dams is to ensure proper insulation in the attic and roof. Good insulation will help to keep warm air from escaping from the attic and melting the snow on the roof. This can be achieved by adding insulation to the attic floor and ensuring that the insulation is properly installed and not compressed. Additionally, it is important to ensure adequate ventilation in the attic to allow for the escape of warm air.

Another way to prevent ice dams is to install ice and water barriers under the roofing material. These barriers are designed to prevent water from penetrating the roof and causing damage. They are typically made of a self-adhering rubberized asphalt membrane applied to the roof deck before the roofing material is installed. The barrier acts as a shield, preventing water from seeping into the roof deck and creating ice dams.

In addition to these measures, it’s important to ensure that gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and properly installed and sloped. Blocked gutters and downspouts can lead to standing water, which can freeze and contribute to the formation of ice dams.

8. Improper Installation

rain gutter installation

When gutters are not installed correctly, they can cause many problems, including water damage, mould growth, and even structural issues.

Water damage is one of the most significant problems caused by improperly installed gutters. When gutters are not installed correctly, they may be unable to direct water away from the home’s foundation effectively. As a result, water can seep into the foundation, causing it to crack and deteriorate over time. This, in turn, can lead to further damage, such as basement flooding or even structural collapse.

Another issue caused by improperly installed gutters is mould growth. When water is not properly directed away from the home, it can seep into the walls and create a damp environment conducive to mould growth. This can be especially dangerous for individuals who suffer from allergies or respiratory issues, as mould can exacerbate these conditions and cause further health problems.

Furthermore, improperly installed gutters can also cause damage to the roof itself. When gutters are not installed correctly, they may not be able to effectively direct water away from the roof, leading to water damage, leaks, and even roof collapse in extreme cases. This can be especially problematic in areas that experience heavy rainfall or snowfall, as the weight of the water or snow can place additional stress on the roof.

To avoid these problems, it’s essential to ensure that gutters are installed correctly. The best way to do this is to hire a professional gutter installer with experience installing gutters properly. This will ensure the gutters are installed correctly and effectively direct water away from the home. However, if you choose to install gutters yourself, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and ensure that the gutters are installed at the correct angle and distance from the roofline.


Gutters are important to a home’s drainage system but can develop problems over time. By understanding these common problems and taking steps to prevent and fix them, you can ensure that your gutters continue to protect your home from water damage.

Read our blog for more exciting and helpful information about gutter installation and maintenance.


Keep your gutters performing flawlessly. Contact Gutter Seattle for expert gutter advice, gutter repair and gutter maintenance services in and near Seattle area!


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